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One of Italy's best value whites
06 November 2018

Fiano is becoming widely recognised as one of Italy’s finest white grape varieties and Arianello, a small commune of Lapio (a subzone of Avellino in the hills of inland Campania,) as one of the greatest places in which to grow it. Here, in 2004, was born the Rocca del Principe estate, which in a short space of time has won great renown within Italy for its lively, characterful wines – amongst other things winning Gambero Rosso’s ultimate “tre bicchiere” award multiple times. The secret has not yet got out into the wider world, however, making theirs among the greatest value white wines you can find.

After years of his family selling grapes to Mastroberardino, Ercole Zarella with the help of his wife and brother, set about producing his own wine, 2004 being his debut vintage. The estate comprises six hectares of prime vineyards in Arianello, a place from which larger producers and negociants vie desperately with each other to source Fiano grapes. Here the vineyards, exposed east, north and west (but never south, Ercole believes Fiano over-ripens too readily on south-facing sites here) are, at 650 metres above sea level, the highest in Lapio and yield wines of zest and intensity. Long ageing sur lie, in tank with no oak at all, helps to produce wines of tremendous purity and clarity of flavour. Herb, citrus and greengage fruit characteristics combine seamlessly to yield a Fiano of authentic character, charm and digestibility. Great enjoyed young, though the Rocca del Principe Fiano does have the ability to age, developing a more stony, smoky, Riesling-esque profile as it matures in bottle over 4-5 years.

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